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El Paso shooting anniversary is remembered with orange ribbons, social distancing

The massacre at a Walmart, which left 23 dead, was the deadliest attack on Latinos in recent U.S. history.
Image: Victims Of El Paso Walmart Shooting Remembered On First Anniversary
A woman places a sign Sunday at a temporary memorial in Ponder Park in El Paso, Texas, honoring victims of the Walmart shooting, which left 23 people dead in a racist attack targeting Latinos. Monday is the anniversary of the deadliest attack against Latinos in modern U.S. history.Mario Tama / Getty Images

People, some wearing masks, placed orange ribbons in Ponder Park in El Paso, Texas, on Monday to remember the 23 people who were killed and the dozens who were injured a year ago in what police say was a racially motivated shooting massacre at a local Walmart, the deadliest attack on Latinos in recent U.S. history.

They did so under the coronavirus protocols forced on the world by the pandemic.

The Walmart where the shooting took place delayed opening until noon Monday. People laid flowers and lit candles at a monument erected there.

Other events hosted by the city included the uploading of pictures and stories on social media using the hashtags #ElPasoStrong and #ATimeToRemember.

The pandemic has limited the number, size and type of gatherings that would have normally marked the solemn anniversary. But the largely Hispanic city of 700,000 showed unity.

Police say that on Aug. 3, 2019, a gunman drove nearly 700 miles from outside Dallas to El Paso and opened fire at a Walmart store in the center of the city. Prosecutors alleged that the suspect, Patrick Crusius, targeted Mexicans in hope of scaring Latinos into leaving the U.S. The plot was outlined in a screed published online shortly before the attack, which police have said was posted by Crusius. He has pleaded not guilty to state murder charges, but he also faces federal hate crime and gun charges.

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Victims' families were the first to see a memorial at Ponder Park, close to the Walmart, on Sunday. The memorial included floral sculptures to represent each life lost.

On Sunday, 23 pillars of light shot into the sky in El Paso. The memorial was visible from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. People lit paper lanterns and played music in a park. A service held for the families of the victims was closed to the public.

In an interview with Noticias Telemundo, Gilberto Anchondo, 59, who lost his son and daughter-in-law, described the shooting as an "indescribable nightmare" and asked that people "not forget the victims." Anchondo now shares custody of his 1-year-old grandson, Paul Gilbert, who survived the shooting because his parents shielded him with their bodies. Paul suffered only broken fingers and was regarded as a miraculous survivor.

President Donald Trump and Melania Trump visited Paul while he was hospitalized.

"Every day I speak to his parents and I tell them to watch over their son, to make sure he has everything he needs and grows to be a good man," Anchondo said.

After sundown, a star of lights on the mountains that overlook El Paso and are generally lit up at night were to flash once for each of the victims.

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